Holiday season is here and the malls are bustling with shoppers searching for that perfect gift for their loved ones. As I scan the crowds, it occurs to me that, of those Canadians who are able to make a Will, fewer than 50% have actually made on.  

As an estate planning lawyer, I am stunned by that statistic.  

Dying without a Will can add many layers of cost and complexity to the administration of an estate.  Because there is no person appointed as estate trustee, an application must be made to appoint an “Estate Trustee Without a Will”.  Typically, the court requires the applicant to post an insurance bond as security for the estate assets: a costly and challenging process. Additionally, the deceased’s assets are distributed in accordance with Ontario’s intestate succession laws, which may not reflect what the deceased would have wanted, had they made a Will.  The old myth that the surviving spouse will “get it all” is not necessarily true. If there are children, the estate is divided amongst the spouse and the children. And if the spouse is a common-law spouse, they do not inherit at all.  

So while you’re contemplating what to get for your family members this year, consider contacting your Wills and Trusts lawyer to set up a meeting. The peace of mind that proper Will planning provides may just be the best gift of all.

Cate Grainger is an Estate Lawyer in London with the Harrison Pensa Wills, Estates, Trusts, and Charities Law Group. Her practice focuses on estate planning, estate administration, corporate succession strategies and not-for-profit law. Contact Cate by email or phone at (519) 661-6751.